Every Morning is a One-Armed Bandit

Every morning is a one-armed bandit,
Two lemons the first pee is not red,
Only nudges away, heart attack, stroke.
Some say quit while you’re ahead.
Places along the row stand empty now,
June lost her mind. Anna followed Peter.
A woman I only know to see is always smoking outside.


Photo: Self-portrait. “Bearded in his den”

Grieving for a Bee

Grieving for a bee I tried to rescue.
I wish I’d never felt love for any human being
But it’s animals I love more, more than people.
Forever regret the mouse that pleaded from a trap.
Oh bee I made a bed for with leaves, forgive me
But they can’t and I am in Hell now.

*

The bee is still
In his dry leaf bower.
The drops of water I left him
He never drank.
He no longer tries to fly.
He has gone to the flowers.

*

I’m sorry if I hurt you by trying to set you free.
Rest, your work is done now, still bee.


Photo: Plants in a pot with a tiny dead bee and dry leaves

Rearranging Curios in the Museum of Religion: The Rooms (RC Wing)

– Magical Bread
– Mortification of the Flesh
– Custody of the Eyes
– Sackcloth and Ashes
– Apparitions and Miracles
– Was Lazarus a Zombie?
– On Your Knees
– Banned Books
– Conclaves & White Smoke
– Statues, Icons and Candles

– Surplices, Soutanes and Cassocks
– Incense, Oil and Holy Water
– Fasting and Altar Wine
– Organs, Hymns and Bells
– Papal Bulls and Celibacy
– Carpenters and Virgins
– Mother and Baby Stables
– Wise Men and Donkeys
– Gold, Frankenstein and Mirth

– Hermits, Stylites and Prophets
– Processions, Relics and Exposition
– Retreats, Novenas and Sodalities
– Statues, Silverware and Stained Glass
– Illuminated Manuscripts and Leaflets
– Missionaries and Black Babies
– Monks, Brothers, Priests and Nuns
– Bamboo Canes and Leathers

– Catechisms and Rosary Beads
– Chasubles and Stoles
– Soutanes and Habits
– Dog Collars and Hairshirts
– Censers and Sanctuary Lights
– Missals and Mass Cards
– Parish Registers and Weekly Dues
– Poor Boxes and Collection Plates
– Presbytery, Sacristy and Choir
– Headstones

– Dominus Vobiscum et Cum Spiritu Tuo
– Scrolls, Gospels & Apocrypha
– Recordings Detectible in Rocks? Not Yet.
– Who’s Coming and When?
– Revelations, Ergot & Mushrooms
– Handwritten Diary of Jesus & Yeah You Wish
– Faith, Hope & Love
– Salvation and Damnation
– Ghost or Spirit?

– Married Priests and Mini-Skirted Nuns
– Jesuits, Liberation Theology and Blind Faith
– Bishops, Arch and Suffragan
– Beatification, Canonisation and Devils Advocates
– Cathars and the Consolamentum
– Kill Them All and God Will Know His Own
– Misogyny and “Witches” Burned Alive

– Original Sin, Baptism and Limbo
– Joseph and the Immaculate Conception
– Fit Kilkenny and the Remoulds
– Gethsemene, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb
– Veronica and the Turin Shroud
– Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje and Knock
– Daniel O’Donnell, Margo and Big Tom
– The Singing Nun and the Singing Priest

– Domenica-nica-nica and Kumbaya
– Faithful Brethren and Dearly Departed
– Spare Not the Rod and Despoil the Child
– Dormitories, Refectories and Confessionals
– Pulpits, Pews and Stations of the Cross
– Fonts, Aisles, Chapels and Tabernacles
– Altar Boys, Handbells and Patens
– Mortal Sins

– Holy Days of Obligation & Acts of Contrition
– Blood Washing Snow White & the Seven Deadly Sins
– Who Killed Liberty Bodice, Scapulars & Miraculous Medals?
– Kyrie Eleison and Why Did Latin Get the Works?
– Sojourn in Hell, Transfiguration and Ascension
– Aramaic, Abba & Here We Go Again

– Fish Supper and Chip Butties for Five Thousand
– Save the Best Wine for Last and Friends on the Coast
– Hairy Magdalene and Tax Collectors
– Herod, Pilate, Caiphas and Peter the Fink
– Romani Ite Domum and the Life of Brian
– Lilies of the Field, Sheep and the Fatted Calf
– Gadarene Swine

– Get Behind Me Satan and St Patrick Before Me
– Holly Threesome and the Divine Mysteries
– Mother Mary Aikenhead and the White Fathers
– Jesus Wept and the Litany of Loreto
– Saecula Saeculorum and Amen

High-flying Birds Know

High-flying birds know it’s about to rain.
Seagulls circle in the lowering plane,
A few one way, then round the other.
When one catches up, it nips its brother
And they squawk. Where can we land?
Pigeons and strangers hurry by and
The dark and darkening cloud overhead
Threatens tree and house and flowerbed.
The sun is foiled, indifferent, no thunder.
But like Swift’s London, the streets are under
Water now. I wish I were in Berwick Street,
Spoiled fruit and cabbage leaves at my feet.
Read the Dean, not me, for all that glory,
My world is suburban and that’s my story.
Here’s rain, miles from home but an anorak
Serves well, and I’ll be soon enough back.


Photo: Raindrops on glass

Every Day I Go Out Down

Every day I go out down

but then a blackbird alights
on a cherry blossom branch
in the time of flying petals,

a squirrel by a railing stops
and runs, stops and runs,
in the shadow of the trees,

or a child holds up traffic,
high-stepping on the crossing,
bonnet-high, and runs away.

and the clouds, the clouds
billow white like opium smoke
as all the young trees reach and bow

and old trees hold up,
hold out their arms,
as if to say
This is it.


Photo: Street scene with Laburnum, May 2021

From one of the Dublin Fusiliers

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother’s prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You’ll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they’ll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,—
But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

— Thomas Kettle

(Born 1880. Died 1916, battle of the Somme. Ref:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kettle)

I used to have a book of poetry by Thomas Kettle, which I was given as a gift, and it had its pages uncut. I wish I knew where I left it. I must have given it as a present to somebody. I think I know who. It can’t be found now for love nor money, just the exact one. It’s possible it was never properly published. Of course I did cut the pages, and it had this poem and one of the others I remember I used to like was called “Ennui” – it wasn’t mainly war poems.

Thomas Kettle was an interesting character, a leading nationalist who followed John Redmond’s decision for his Irish Volunteers, a nationalist movement, to enlist in British regiments to fight “for the rights of small nations” after Belgium had been invaded. It was on the promise of Home Rule for Ireland, which had been passed by Westminster in 1914, at Gladstone’s third attempt, but then suspended because of the outbreak of war.

Whether it would have followed had not Pearse et al struck in 1916, who knows? Even in the treaty negotiations later an offer of dominion status similar to Canada’s, was spurned. Wouldn’t that have been far better though, even from a nationalist point of view, because afterwards they might have voted away the link anyway, like Australia keeps threatening to do? [The treaty did give the 26 counties dominion status, which continued till the declaration of the republic in 1937. It was perhaps never going to be for the 32, I don’t know.] Oh well. Let’s invite the Queen to Dublin, it’s past time. Let the dead bury the dead. I’m not very sure what it means, but it’s something a little short of letting bygones be bygones, perhaps.

The following, if it’s still there (they come and go on YouTube) is a lament for a son going off to war, “Oh Danny boy, the pipes – the pipes are calling…”

(Diana Krall with the Chieftains)